Plumbing Problems That Arise After Heavy Rains

image of heavy rain depicting plumbing problems when it rains

Rain is wonderful for gardens, crops, and nature as a whole. However, sudden and excessive rain can cause way more harm than good. Major plumbing problems can spring up in the midst of a downpour, even in newer or well-kept homes. But properties that are not prepared to handle heavy rain can experience a whole slew of problems, from outdoor flooding to indoor backups. This article discusses common plumbing problems when it rains.

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Common Plumbing Problems When It Rains

Keep reading to explore some of the top plumbing issues that crop up after a heavy downpour.

Outdoor Flooding

image of a flooded yard due to heavy rain

The ground can only take so much water so fast. Soon, rain falling by the bucket load will find it has nowhere else to go in the saturated Earth. In this case, floods in your yard or driveway are imminent. Flooding is a huge problem because standing water causes wood to rot and does serious damage to decks and foundations. Those who have previously installed some system of storm drains to take the excess water away may be in the clear. However, dirt and leaves can easily clog these drains and make them useless.

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Indoor Flooding

A rush of water can quickly find its way into your home and cause flooding in your basement, utility room or crawl space — or any area that is located below the ground level. The likelihood is even higher if your property sits on low ground and does not have a sewage drain close by. Indoor flooding leads to numerous other problems. It can rot wooden floors, damaged foundations, and ruin furniture. Combat this problem by hiring a plumber to set up area drains at low points on your land. You may also want to invest in a sump pump inside. Clear drains (before it starts raining) and test sump pumps regularly.

Blocked Outdoor Drain

blocked outdoor storm drain after rain downpour

Heavy rains gather any debris in the way, including grass, leaves, sticks, trash, and dirt. It all gets layered on top of each other once it gets stuck, which is often right on top of or around outdoor drains. When this occurs, pipes can quickly flood your home because the water you are trying to get rid of inside will have nowhere to go outside, causing them to flood inward.

Blocked Indoor Drain

Swells of rain may suddenly result in water pooling in your shower, tubs, sinks, or other drains due to a blockage in the plumbing. Unfortunately, this is a common problem accompanying heavy rain. Any trash or debris that gets kicked up in a storm will likely find its way to your pipes and cause a clog. This will typically be followed by an awful sewage smell coming from the drains. However, clearing storm drains and gutters can help prevent this from happening at all.

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Dirty Waterlines

image of a water main repair and water main break

Some problems may not even happen on your property, but can still affect you. A ton of rain can wreak havoc on main water lines throughout your neighborhood, causing a crack or breach that lets sediment and dirt in. Small amounts of this can find their way to your plumbing. Over time, these microscopic bits get caught in the mesh screens located in faucets and similar fixtures, which eventually causes a clog.

Overloaded Sewer

Sewer systems have to work harder than ever to perform their best work during a downpour. Even new and top-of-the-line plumbing systems can get overwhelmed by sudden heavy rain, forcing water to head back up the pipes and into your home. This can be avoided by asking a plumber to put check valves in your basement. Check valves prevent water from flowing back up – even water coming from the main water line in your neighborhood.

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One of the most harmful problems is also the one that is less known, and it’s called backdrafting. Water heaters, boilers, and other appliances release toxic byproducts, from explosive methane gas to carbon monoxide, into flues that immediately leave the home. This process can get interrupted when heavy rain backs up your drainage system, leading to negative air pressure inside. The first indication that this is taking place comes in the form of a sewer smell and should be immediately followed by placing a call to your plumber.

Cracked Pipes

image of a cracked water pipe and plumbing

Plumbing lines are safely located underground, but are not created to bend or move around. Enough pressure and tension from shifting, soaking wet soil can cause plumbing lines to crack or burst. The dirt under the pipes may also move, leaving areas of weakness in pipes that once had a support system to hold them up. Cracks are even more likely if the heavy rain comes after a while of drought-like conditions when pipes have completely dried out.

Broken Pipes

If the pipe is older and the rain is drastically heavy and damaging, plumbing lines can even get crushed under the weight and break completely. Red flags that this has occurred include water running dirty, coming with sand or grit, tasting like copper, or appearing to be the color of rust. The water may also lack pressure and you may notice a mildew smell around your home.

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The Problem with Imperfect Pipes

A small crack may seem harmless enough, but it weakens the integrity of the pipe, meaning bigger damage is not far off. In addition, even the tiniest opening can invite in dirt, pebbles, roots, leaves and other debris. All of these obstacles will stop drainage in its path, cause a clog and eventually lead to a backup in your home.



Heavy rain cause excessive damage to plumbing systems, starting with minor outdoor problems and leading to major indoor issues. Avoiding these troubles starts with proactively clearing drains and vents regularly, even before the rain becomes a worry. If a problem does occur, call a plumber to efficiently diagnose and address the issue before it becomes a catastrophe.

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